Metaphors in Movies

Metaphors are used to express a variety of emotions, images, and expressions by combining and comparing to different objects or situation. Metaphors are one of the most widely used literary devices by the authors to describe their subjects. Most artworks are plain without literary devices. Movies are also a form of art. Hence the creators – writers and the crew use metaphor in the dialogues, settings to persuade or express the significance of the film and its objective.

Sometimes the movie itself is a metaphor which leaves the viewer to compare the various themes, characters or scenes to a more relatable object, person or situation. These metaphors may also differ depending on a person’s perspective. Here are a few examples of metaphors in films.

I, Robot

The film shows the central artificial intelligence computer, VIKI, evolved programs all the robots to turn against humans, believing that humans will destroy the planet. Hence, it tries to kill a few people to save humanity. Hence, the movie has metaphorically compared VIKI with the technology we use today and how it can destroy us if we keep relying on it for simple tasks.

Never Ending Story

There are two significant metaphors in this film. The fantasy world ‘Fantasia’ is a metaphor for human thoughts and also the imagination. The dark force in the form of clouds is called ‘Nothing’ and is compared to ignorance or lack of imagination.

Dawn of The Dead

The zombies are the metaphor for spiritually dead people whose bodies are still alive, but they do not have any human-like qualities. The film also has an extended metaphor for religious and philosophical leaders who want to force their ideas on others.

The Truman Show

The film consists of an extended metaphor in the title of the film. Truman is usually compared to ‘True man’ means a person who has been living an elaborated artificial life. In the movie, the stairs represent, freedom and Christof, the show creator is a controlling government.

The Island

In the film, clones are given false memories and kept imprisoned on the island. The island in the move is a metaphor for fear and control as used by the elites of the society or certain radical groups which makes people live in constant fear. The boat is a metaphor for freedom.


The film has many deeper themes and metaphors and is often compared to ‘The Matrix’. The spinning top used by various characters in the film represents reality. Limbo is a metaphor for a Catholic belief where a non-Christian with good deeds go after his/her death. The reality is also an extended metaphor for heaven, which happens when the characters wake up.

Groundhog Day

The film itself is a metaphor for religious beliefs based on Buddhism. The main character, Phil Connors is stuck in a time loop and relives the same day over and over again until he changes into a better person. The charitable acts are a metaphor for Enlightenment which is also based on Buddhism.

Inside Out

The movie is a metaphor for human emotions and intellectual feelings. Each color represents one emotion that we feel similar to how the main character Riley’s emotions depend on the emotions or actions of Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness who live in Headquarters, a metaphor for the brain and advise her through everyday life.

No Country for Old Men

The movie is a metaphor of life after retirement. The old people are compared to a disease or a deadweight that needs to be removed. The movie also consists of extended metaphor of secret society’s conspiracy theory to control the population and the food resources.


The land pandora is a metaphor for the Native American lands and genocide of the tribes after it was discovered by European settlers. The land before the European settlers free and there was no colonial rule until they arrived. The other hidden metaphor in the film is the racial tension between the two groups. The extended metaphor of the film can be compared to how we use the natural resources of the Earth and expected destruction.


The film terminator is similar to I, Robot. The creator of Robots are metaphors for the elites who want to control humanity. Robots are metaphors for people without consciences or spiritually blind and people who are controlled by elites.

The Giver

The movie has an extended metaphor where the injections taken by Fiona to keep her emotions suppressed, can be compared to social media addiction that makes a person’s mind numb. The triangle structure in the film is a metaphor for a secret society and also spirit; the waterfall represents purity, and The Giver represents Jesus/God.

The Shining

The horror film has two metaphors. The Room is an extended metaphor for conquering fear. The maze can be compared to the loss of mind, threat or confusion that often humans feel when they are stuck in unforeseen dangers.

They Live

One of the lesser known and underrated films, They Live has become a cult following due to its hidden messages. Aliens are a metaphor for the leaders or elites without moral standards. The glasses represent inner eye or third eye according to the Hindu mythology, through which they can see or perceive the hidden meanings of the things or people they see around them.

The Badlands

This movie also has an extended metaphor which can be compared to the complexity of life and the choice people would make to build their image. However, the fish in the film is a metaphor for innocence, and the cow represents sickness or failure.